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The unsinkable Lyn Gamboa

Silay was never the same ever since Marilyn Besa married Neil Gamboa and made it her territory. The place known for its matrons going around in colourful dusters and signature slippers who would whip up traditional delicacies from the famous lumpia ubod to their sinful leche flans, the little sleepy town was whipped out of control by the entrance of this fiery persona who preferred boisterous cocktails to the preferred parlour game of cards. While the men played golf, the ladies gossiped for it was well known that it could rival the well-known TV series of the early 60s “Peyton Place”. There were whispers of the convento being locked up by the parish priest for fear of midnight “confessions” insisted on by the local hens, or the case of a matron who married off her spinster daughter to her lover to quell the rumours that circulated around the plaza after morning Mass. 

Helas, those days are long gone, but Lyn kept up the sound and the fury with her bombastic commands in the cultural circles where she dominated these last 25 years, spreading her influence all the way up to the hallowed halls of the Negros Cultural Foundation, creating landmarks of culture from the Balay Negrense to the Negros Museum. The feisty woman showed a lot of gall as she made polite society hiss like a pit of snakes whenever she made an entrance to public events. But with her strong determination, she beat them all because nobody could make waves the way she did in putting Silay back to its famed reputation as the Paris of Negros Island and at the same time propelling the province with cultural events that splashed into the nation’s consciousness. 

Color coordinated table setting of Italian green tomato and orange starched linen napkin*
Anticipated Easter centerpiece*

Lately though, ever since she became a widow, her image de marque has become more quiet, reflective even and spending most of her time with her children and housekeeping amidst the hidden treasures that her residence in Silay displays nonchalantly. Last weekend, my groupie had lunch with this grande dame of culture and we were amazed with her vibrant attitude towards life, in spite of the pandemic. She had her staff paint the ceiling of her terrace a la Frieda Kalo with bright giant sunflowers lording over her guests’ shoulders, installed new airy doors that makes moving from living room to verandah an effortless breeze. The swimming pool has been cleaned and filled with fresh water and her garden is a mosaic of colourful exotic flora that is the signature to leisurely island living. 

Wayne Forte giant pineapple oil painting brought home by Miren Z; middle, Silay Grand Dame Lyn Besa Vda. de Gamboa; right, Punta Bulata Empress Miren Zayco*

We started with imported cheese and some humus and pita bread I brought from this enterprising Israeli man who sells his goodies in the vacant lot fronting St. Scholastica’s. Chita Reyes and Miren Zayco brought wine and as the conversation roared off with the topic of Harry and Meghan, I just knew it would be a fun lunch. As our tongues got looser and sharper, our tummies started to grumble, thank God, making us change topic to food which was already waiting to be served. There was batchoy to warm up our complaining guts, fresh translucent vegetable spring rolls, a signature Lyn G adobo apple and ending with a light and airy dessert made out of daughter Reena’s fresh carabao milk. I got sentimental as my cousin Wayne Forte’s giant paintings faced me during the entire lunch because I do miss him dearly and I’m sure likewise because he makes it a point to visit the Philippines every year which is now on hold due to this virulent Kung Flu. 

The Lunch Bunch (l-r) Chita Reyes, Miren Zayco, Lyn Gamboa and ELG*

Going back to #harryandmeghan, go on YouTube and search Lady Colin Campbell’s series of analysis on this horrid affair. The lady sure did her research and I still have more than 20 hours of her diatribes on Markle who lost her sparkle. While your jaws will surely drop and your tummy will ache from laughing as Lady C gives her trademark guffaw to the gaffes this distressed couple have created for themselves, you can treat yourself to slices of the world’s best sourdough bread available only in Bacolod, done by “Victoria and William” topped off with French butter and a pinch of rock salt. A treat afforded us by Vicky Z Garcia and partner William Espina who incidentally, also makes the lightest ensaymadas this side of the Pacific. Yes, their sourdough bread has the best texture I’ve eaten  with the right amount of air and chewy delight. Although they make them daily, make sure to order ahead in their Facebook page. Bon appétit! 

MY PRAYER. To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32, NIV*

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